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New York Jets Throwback Thursday: The Birth of Monday Night Football

Joe Namath's Jets took on the Cleveland Browns 45 years ago in the first ever Monday Night Football game.

George Rose/Getty Images

The New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns will battle the start of a new season Sunday, but this isn't the first time they've kicked off something new. 45 years ago on September 21, 1970, the two teams debuted the most successful TV series in the history of sports: Monday Night Football.

The actual game, however, was not too pretty for the Jets. Broadway Joe threw 3 interceptions, including a pick 6 in the 4th quarter as the Jets were driving down 24-21. The final score was Browns 31, Jets 21.

The MNF program obviously started something that would have a huge impact on the football community. Producer Roone Arledge changed the way the NFL was presented on television, most notably with a three-man commentating crew, including Keith Jackson, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell. Originally when ABC acquired the rights, their agreement was to televise 13 games in 1970, '71, and '72. The rights are still in the same family here in 2015.

Aside from the birth of MNF, 1970 was a time of great change in the NFL. The AFL-NFL merger had been announced 4 years prior in 1966, but the leagues would maintain separate regular season schedules until the 1970 season. The Super Bowls from 1966-1969 were played between the regular season champions of the AFL and NFL. The Jets, of course, were the first AFL team to win the Super Bowl, a 16-7 victory against the Baltimore Colts. The AFL and NFL officially merged in the 1970 season, creating a unified 26 team league with 2 conferences.

Behold the "new" NFL.

The Jets will play in their next Monday Night Football game Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts.